Planning Portal

DCAN 8: Housing in Existing Urban Areas
Protecting the Characteristics which contribute to Local Character

4.17 The local character of an area evolves from a combination of the above characteristics, and it is important that where possible, when new development occurs, care is taken to ensure that these characteristics are protected.

Retaining building lines

  • Retaining the building line is an important way of maintaining the character of the area. Sometimes new housing schemes are designed around considerations of vehicular access and circulation and this can leave a 'gaping' hole in the established street scene, impacting on the character of the area. A different approach to road layout can maintain the existing building line and landscape structure of the street.
  • Most urban housing benefi ts from a set back which provides an adequate buffer zone to the street and is capable of accommodating suitable frontage planting, or providing defensible space. It will not, however, normally be suffi cient to accommodate in-curtilage parking.

Protecting boundary treatments

  • Boundary treatments can have an important infl uence on local character, and should be retained where possible, in order to protect the surrounding street character.
  • Well-designed walls or railings, and planting, can be used to mitigate the detrimental visual impact of cars and dustbins.

Respecting the scale of built form

  • Care should be taken to respect the ‘footprints’ of existing development. As stated in PPS 7, paragraph 4.9, intensifying the scale and massing of buildings in established residential areas can adversely affect local character.
  • A plan and section of the scale of proposed buildings can demonstrate a sympathetic fit to the surrounding neighbourhood.
  • New proposals usually show building heights sympathetic to neighbouring properties, but this does not preclude the identification of places for taller buildings to provide landmark legibility or for lower buildings to respect existing important structures or land forms.
  • Large single span buildings tend to be out of scale with existing housing forms, and can produce roofs with a high visual impact.
4.18 It is essential that proposals demonstrate that they have considered the local context, in relation to both positive and negative characteristics, the aim being to build on local character. Any proposal, which departs significantly from the local context, must demonstrate that it does so for good design reasons.
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